The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) says business directory publisher UBD has almost certainly breached the DMA code of practice by selling CDs containing company email addresses and it will be taking action.
UBD was accused on the New Zealand Network Operators Group (NZNOG) of supplying email addresses taken from its business clients and consequently found itself on an anti-spam black list hosted by Spamhaus, a European anti-spam initiative.
Spamhaus' list of known spammers is used to block mail sent to around 200 million addresses worldwide.
UBD general manager Peter Batcheler says the company used to sell a CD containing business contact details, including email addresses. While the CD terms and conditions did include a "do not spam" clause, Batcheler admits the company didn't do enough to enforce that contract.
"We don't think we've done a lot wrong. The trouble is that we haven't stopped others abusing what we have done." Batcheler says between 6000 and 10,000 copies of the CD were sold in its lifetime and that UBD has now stopped marketing and selling the CD.
"We've made a conscious decision not to sell any email addresses any more."
Batcheler has instructed one of his senior managers to make contact with the DMA to work through what should be included in UBD's terms and conditions.
DMA chief executive Keith Norris says he has sent an "informal email" to UBD about the practice but has yet to hear back.
"UBD is a member, yes and they certainly appear to be in contravention of the code of practice, both in terms of the actual wording and the spirit of the code."
Norris says he has yet to receive a formal complaint about the UBD practice but hopes it was simply a genuine mistake. The DMA can censure and even suspend or expel members who breach the organisation's terms and conditions, however Norris says that's an extreme measure.
"We have only had to expel one member and that was 15 years ago."